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Transparency and ACCOUNTABILITY in national Governments

Last updated: 26 January 2015


Approaches to “Good Government”

How Important Are Transparency and Integrity?

Public Sector Morality

Examples of Weak Public Sector Morality

Transparency and Accountability in Trade Agreements

Ethical Issues – Applying Laws of War

Ethical Issues – Armed Drones

Accountability for Crimes Against Humanity


Earlier links are at the top of each section



Approaches to “Good Government


Approaches to “Good Government”

McKinsey & Co, “Government Designed for New Times”, October 2012.  Available at: http://www.mckinsey.com/features/government_designed_for_new_times/table_of_contents.  This is an anthology of approaches that governments around the world are using to adjust to contemporary economic and social problems.  Topics include: (a) transforming government, (b) innovating government services (c) building new competencies and (d) understanding government in new times.

Series of articles on progress toward “good government” (and, in one case, away from it) by Spiegel Online:

Bernhard Zand, “Which Country Has the Best Government”, Spiegel Online 10 August 2012..  Available at: http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/good-governance-series-which-goverment-is-best-a-845170.html. This is the introduction to a series of articles in which Spiegel staff review progress toward good governance.

Part 1: “Erich Follath and Jens Gluesing, “From Poverty to Power:  How Good Governance Made Brazil a Model Nation”, Spiegel Online, 10 August 2012.  Available at: http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/good-governance-series-how-brazil-became-a-model-nation-a-843591.html.  A rigorous battle against corruption and poverty in Brazil ushered in new freedoms as well as economic growth and increasing equality, thus winning the country respect around the world.

Part 2 - Marc Hujer, “The End of Reason: What Potatoes Say about the State of US Democracy”, Spiegel Online, 17 August 2012.  Available at: http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/the-political-potato-battle-shows-influence-of-lobbies-in-us-congress-a-843595.html.  The debate in the US Congress last winter over whether potatoes should be curbed in school lunches is emblematic of the modern-day crisis in US governance.  Lobbyists and other powerful interest groups dominate the tenor of the debate and not surprisingly, many Americans have lost confidence in their leaders.

Part 3 - Manfred Ertel and Gerald Traufetter, “Embracing the Wind: Denmark’s Recipe for a Model Democracy”, Spiegel Online, 24 August 2012.  Available at: http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/how-wind-energy-is-transforming-denmark-into-a-modern-marvel-a-849227.html.  Often hailed as a miracle of modern politics, Denmark “consistently earns top marks for its efficient governance, innovation and transparency. Nowhere is this more apparent than with its successful embrace of wind power, making it a role model for the world.”

Part 4 – Sandra Schultz, “How China’s Leaders Steer a Massive Nation”, Spiegel Online, 31 August 2012.  Available at: http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/putting-the-plan-into-action-how-china-s-leaders-steer-a-massive-nation-a-843593.html.  There is no question that China is an authoritarian state “but Beijing's efforts to include experts and experiments in the way it governs also help to keep power in check.  Once the government supports a project, it normally carries it out.”

The Worldwide Governance Indicators (WGI) are available at: http://info.worldbank.org/governance/wgi/index.asp.  Included are aggregate and individual governance indicators for 213 economies of the period 1996-2010 for six dimensions of governance: (1) voice and accountability,(2) political stability and absence of violence, (3) government effectiveness, (4) regulatory quality, (5) rule of law and (6) control of corruption. 

Francis Fukuyama, “What Is Governance?” Centre for Global Development, Working Paper 314, January 2013.  Available at: http://international.cgdev.org/sites/default/files/1426906_file_Fukuyama_What_Is_Governance.pdf.  The author expresses concern for the lack of conceptual means for adequately stating what constitutes high-quality government.  He rejects measures of output for the executive branches of nation-states, and their bureaucracies, and suggests that a two-dimensional framework using capacity measures (including available resources and the degree of professionalisation) and measures of bureaucratic autonomy represents a good starting point.  This framework “explains the conundrum of why low-income countries are advised to reduce bureaucratic autonomy while high-income ones seek to increase it.



Transparency and Integrity


How Important Are Transparency and Integrity?

Some Basic Principles

Government Transparency”, Omidyar Network (a philanthropic organisation initiated by Pierre Omidyar, the founder of eBay).  The undated Internet page is available at: http://www.omidyar.com/initiatives/government-transparency.  The information is useful mainly as a measure of the organisation’s commitment to transparency and accountability.

Transparency International recently released its “Corruption Perceptions Index 2012” at: http://www.transparency.org/cpi2012/results.  New Zealand is ranked equal first (with Denmark and Finland; Australia is ranked 8th in the world.

Transparency International Australia, “A Ten-Point Integrity Plan for the Australian Government, Submission on the Proposed National Anti-Corruption Plan, May 2012.  Available at: http://transparency.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/2012-TIA-NACP-Subv2-FINAL.pdf.  TIA concluded that the single largest corruption risk in Australia was that of complacency – “the frequent assumption that because things do not ‘appear’ to be as bad in Australia as elsewhere, or as bad in some Australian jurisdictions as others, that specific corruption risks are either lower, or being effectively managed, or simply that no significant corruption-related conduct is occurring.”

Prakash Sarangi, “Can the Right to Information Help?” Journal of Democracy, Vol. 23, No. 1 (January 2012), pp.149-155.  Available at:  http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/journal_of_democracy/v023/23.1.sarangi.html.  The author describes India’s experience with the enactment of the Right to Information Act of 2005 and suggests that it “brought about a quiet revolution in her quest for good governance.”

Some Examples – Both Good and Bad

Keith Aston, “Button Up: Abbott to Keep Ministers in Check,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 26 September 2013.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/button-up-abbott-to-keep-ministers-in-check-20130925-2uelx.html.  The author reported that “Tony Abbott, who once described Kevin Rudd as a ‘hyper-control freak’ for his autocratic media management, has gagged his own ministers from media interviews without prior approval from the Prime Minister's office.

Peter Hartcher, “Carr’s Tourism Costly to Diplomacy,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 29 October 2013.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/comment/carrs-tourism-costly-to-diplomacy-20131028-2wbxe.html.  Hartcher revisisted Bob Carr’s 18 months as Australia foreign affairs minister and concluded that it was an “underachievement sustained by falsehoods.  Bob Carr’s response:  “Using Old Scores to Make Points in Blame Game,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 30 October 2013.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/comment/using-old-scores-to-make-points-in-blame-game-20131029-2we6o.html.

Bill Keller, “Is Glenn Greenwald the Future of News?” The New York Times, 27 October 2013.  Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/28/opinion/a-conversation-in-lieu-of-a-column.html?src=recg.  Bill Keller devotes his weekly column to “conversation – a (mostly) civil argument – between two very different views of how journalism fulfils its mission”.

Alexander Furnas, “Why Representative Democracies Can’t Write Off Transparency,” The Atlantic, 16 January 2014.  Available at: http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2014/01/why-representative-democracies-cant-write-off-transparency/283143/.  The author comments on the view that transparency is overrated (by Amitai Etzioni, in The Atlantic, 13 January 2014) by underscoring the fact that “disclosure occurs within an ecosystem of interest groups and advocacy organisations that remix, repackage, and redistribute information once it is released. This civil-society context in which data is released significantly affects the effectiveness transparency can have.

Alpha Condé, “At Davos, the West Must Help Us Root Out Corruption in Africa”, The Guardian, 22 January 2014.  Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jan/22/africa-corruption-west-davos-guinea-offshore-deals.  The author states: As president of Guinea I know we can't tackle this problem alone – corruption is embedded in the western institutions that have helped bleed our country dry.

Matt Mossman, “Big Dig: How to Hold Miners – and the Governments They Work With – Accountable,” Foreign Affairs, 29 January 2014.  Available at: http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/140699/matt-mossman/big-dig.  The article suggests that transparency is the first step toward accountability in the mining industry.

Ben Butler and Lucy Battersby, “NBN Co Blocks FOI Request: Reputations at Stake,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 17 December 2014.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/business/nbn-co-blocks-foi-request-reputations-at-stake-20140216-32ttz.html.  See comment at: http://www.accci.com.au/CommentonNBN.pdf.



Public Sector Morality


Public Sector Morality

Julian Baggini, “Why Politicians Are Making Morality Fashionable Again”, The Guardian, 24 July 2012.  Available at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/jul/24/why-morality-is-fashionable-again.  Julian Baggini’s makes two important points in relation to politicians who have suddenly become “fashionably moral”.  “First, we are not sure about where to find moral wisdom because there is no clear, shared understanding of what exactly morality is.  Second, since morality is therefore essentially social, not personal, who should be wary of personal platforms on morality.

Text of speech by John Robertson to the Western Sydney Regional Assembly, entitled “A New Standard”, 3 February 2013 is available at: http://www.nswalp.com/media/blogs/alp-blog/february-2013/a-new-standard/.  The speech reinforced the expressed desire of the NSW Opposition to regain the public trust with a newly designed accountable and transparent process, about which some details were announced and presumably others will follow.



Examples of Weak Public Sector Morality


Examples of Weak Public Sector Morality

James M Lager, “Overcoming Cultures of Compliance to Reduce Corruption and Achieve Ethics in Government”,
McGeorge Law Review, Vol. 41 (22 October 2009. Available at http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1492978.  The author suggests that organisational culture has the greatest influence in determining ethical outcomes.  So fostering an organisational culture that values honesty, integrity, and public service is essential to moving government organisations away from both the perceived culture of corruption and the culture of compliance.

Rowan Callick, “Thorn in China’s Side Liu Xiaobo Awarded Nobel Peace Prize”, The Australian, 9 October 2010.  Available at: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/world/thorn-in-chinas-side-awarded-nobel-peace-prize/story-e6frg6so-1225936212275.  The article brings out the “clash of cultures” that resulted in a highly regarded award being presented by the Norwegian Nobel Committee to a Chinese citizen who in China is a criminal.  Also Anne Applebaum, “Easy for Them to Say”, Slate, 8 October 2010 at:  http://www.slate.com/id/2270523/.  Refer to the comment by Michael C H Jones at http://www.accci.com.au/JonesCommentonNobelPrize.pdf.

Richard A Epstein, “Obama’s Self-Inflicted Scandal”, Foreign Policy, 15 May 2013.  Available at: http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2013/05/14/obama_holder_ap_scandal_benghazi_secrets.  The lead-in to the article states: “the only thing transparent about the White House is its perverse penchant for secrecy”.  The author then summarises the three scandals that are on-going and comments on possible outcomes.  The downside is characterised by a quote from Proverbs: "Pride goeth before destruction. and a haughty spirit before a fall.

The Editorial Board, “President Obama’s Dragnet,” The New York Times, 6 June 2013.  Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/07/opinion/president-obamas-dragnet.html?ref=global-home.  The main point of the editorial is stated as follows: “Mr. Obama is proving the truism that the executive branch will use any power it is given and very likely abuse it.  That is one reason we have long argued that the Patriot Act, enacted in the heat of fear after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks by members of Congress who mostly had not even read it, was reckless in its assignment of unnecessary and overbroad surveillance powers.

Leo Lewis, “Mistakenly-Released Report Reveals Embarrassing Extent of Chinese Corruption”, The Times, 17 June 2011.  Available at: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/world/accidentally-released-report-reveals-embarrassing-extent-of-chinese-corruption/story-e6frg6so-1226076938605. The article is based upon a report by the People's Bank of China that was never intended to be released to the public.  It highlights money-laundering activities in China.

George Hampel, “In the Anti-Corruption Puzzle, Who Watches the Watcher? The Sydney Morning Herald, 30 June 2011.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/society-and-culture/in-the-anticorruption-puzzle-who-watches-the-watcher-20110629-1gqxf.html.   Anti-corruption bodies have far reaching powers including surveillance, phone tapping, interception and interrogation.  This raises questions about the accountability of such bodies, as well as the adequacy of laws to prevent loss of privacy and other infringements on civil society.

George Hampel, “In the Anti-Corruption Puzzle, Who Watches the Watcher? The Sydney Morning Herald, 30 June 2011.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/society-and-culture/in-the-anticorruption-puzzle-who-watches-the-watcher-20110629-1gqxf.html.   Anti-corruption bodies have far reaching powers including surveillance, phone tapping, interception and interrogation.  This raises questions about the accountability of such bodies, as well as the adequacy of laws to prevent loss of privacy and other infringements on civil society.

Neil Fergus, “Full of Sound and Fury”, The Sydney Morning Herald, 4 July 2011.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/politics/full-of-sound-and-fury-20110703-1gx7y.html.  Neil Fergus examines the extent to which the leadership, commitment and resources that are required to actively discourage and prosecute corrupt behaviour will be sufficient to achieve those objectives.  Comment by Michael C H Jones is available at: http://www.accci.com.au/JonesCommentonCorruption.pdf. 

Vincent Morello, “Corruption ‘Systemic’ in Government Purchasing”, The Sydney Morning Herald, 15 July 2011.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/corruption-systemic-in-government-purchasing-20110715-1hgfd.html.  The article focuses on the NSW government’s procurement process using a survey of 1500 suppliers, with some analysis by the state’s corruption watchdog.

John Garnaut, “Rotting From Within: Investigating the Massive Corruption of the Chinese Military”, Foreign Policy, 19 May 2012.  Available at: http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/04/16/rotting_from_within?page=0,5.  The article is centred mainly on information available in speeches made by General Liu Yuan, one in late December and the other in mid-February.  Liu is the son of a former president of China and one of the PLA's rising stars.


Christian Caryl, “Mob Rule: Why Organised Crime is a Growing Force in World Politics,” Foreign Policy, 19 July 2013.  Available at: http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2013/07/19/mob_rule.  The author highlights the obvious but sometimes forgotten fact that global crime syndicates are the enemy of good government.  “Democracy can hardly flourish when politicians meld with the shadowy forces of the mafia.” It is precisely this understanding that has spurred worries in many countries about official malfeasance and the lack of transparency that allows it.




Transparency and Accountability in Trade Agreements

Martin Pigeon, “Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership:  Keeping Us in the Dark,” Le Monde Diplomatique, June 2014.  Available by subscription at: http://mondediplo.com/2014/06/13ttip.  “T
he TIPP negotiations are being conducted almost in secret, with governments and the European Parliament deliberately denied essential information. However, business lobbyists can access all areas, and do.

Benoît Bréville and Martine Bulard, “Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership: The Injustice Industry,” Le Monde Diplomatique, June 2014.  Available by subscription at: http://mondediplo.com/2014/06/12ttip.  There is a major legal business in corporate lawsuits against governments, seeking either a change in proposed legislation to suit corporate demands, or compensation. Under TTIP, European governments could face the same claims



Applying Laws of War


Ethical Issues – Applying Laws of War

US Department of Justice, “Memorandum for Alberto R Gonzales, Counsel to the President and William J. Haynes II, General Counsel of the Department of Defence Re: Application of Treaties and Laws to al Qaeda and Tiliban Detainees”, 22 January 2002.  Available at: http://www.justice.gov/olc/docs/memo-laws-taliban-detainees.pdf.  The memo was in response to a request for an opinion concerning the effect of international treaties and federal laws on the treatment of individuals detained by the U.S. Armed Forces during the conflict in Afghanistan.

John C Yoo and James C Ho, “International Law and the War on Terrorism”, Global Governance Watch, 8 August 2003.  Available at: http://www.globalgovernancewatch.org/docLib/20080314_Intl_Law_War_on_Terror.pdf.  The document examines two specific legal questions: “First, did the September 11, 2001 attacks initiate a war, or “international armed  conflict” to use the vocabulary of modern public international law? Second, what legal rules govern the status and treatment of members of the al Qaeda terrorist network and the Taliban militia that harbored and supported them in Afghanistan?”

David Glazier, “Playing by the Rules: Combating Al Qaeda Within the Law of War”, William and Mary Law Review, 10 January 2011.  Available at: http://legalworkshop.org/2011/01/10/4163#fn-4163-3.  The September 2001 Authorisation for Use of Military Force permitted President George W Bush to wage war against those behind the 9/11 attacks, but the military actions that followed did not fall easily into existing international legal rules.  The author examines these legal rules to determine which if any could assist in normalising (by either amending US law or international law, or both) the military force that has been taken.

Charles G Kels, “The Pentagon’s Unwise Silence on the Law of War”, The National Interest, 20 March 2013.  Available at: http://nationalinterest.org/commentary/the-pentagons-unwise-silence-the-law-war-8250?page=1.  The article focuses on the notion of “direct participation in hostilities”, which, according to Kels, “is crucial to the law of war, because it denotes the process by which nominal civilians may render themselves liable to deliberate attack.”  In 2009 the International Committee of the Red Cross published guidelines for a workable definition for “direct participation” in the hope that it would become encapsulated in treaties or reflected in the customs of states.  Kels reports that several aspects of the ICRC guidelines were not acceptable to the United States and the Pentagon intended to release a document referred to as “Update on the DOD Law of War Manual” that included this and other relevant matters, but announced recently that the project was abandoned because no agreement could be reached among the legal people in the various departments of the United States Government.  All this, according to Kels, is tragic.



Armed Drones


Ethical Issues – Armed Drones

Sarah E Kreps and John Kaag, “The Use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles in Contemporary Conflict:  A Legal and Ethical Analysis”, Social Science Research Network, 15 March 2012.  Available at: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2023202.  This is more detailed, and academically more complete, compared to the blog quoted above.  Included in it are the implications of the “just war theory” and a philosophical framework that “might lessen the confusion surrounding the ethics of modern warfare.”

Owen Bowcott, “Drone Strikes Threaten 50 Years of International Law, Says UN Rapporteur”, The Guardian, 21 June 2012.  Available at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/jun/21/drone-strikes-international-law-un.  See commentary by Michael C H Jones at: http://accci.com.au/JonesCommentonDroneStrikes.pdf.  The article highlights the possibility that US policy of using drone strikes to carry out targeted killings “may encourage other states to flout international law”.

John Kaag and Sarah Kreps, “The Moral Hazard of Drones”, The New York Times, 22 July 2012.  Available at: http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/07/22/the-moral-hazard-of-drones/?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20120723.  The authors state: “To say that we can target individuals without incurring troop casualties does not imply that we ought to.”

Dirk Kurbjuweit, “’Humane’ Drones Are the Most Brutal Weapons of All”, Spiegel Online, 9 August 2012.  Available at: http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/essay-on-german-plans-to-acquire-combat-drones-a-848851.html.  The author indicated that the German military is considering the purchase of combat drones.”  But we should not allow ourselves to be seduced by the idea that an unmanned aircraft is a humane weapon.  On the contrary, they expose the true nature of war in all its brutality.”

Bradley Strawser, “The Morality of Drone Warfare Revisited,” The Guardian, 7 August 2012.  Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/aug/06/morality-drone-warfare-revisited.  Drone strikes may cause less collateral damage than bombing, but that’s not an argument for current US targeted killing policy

Keith Ellison, “Time for Congress to Build a Better Drone Policy”, The Washington Post, 14 January 2013.  Available at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/time-for-congress-to-build-a-better-drone-policy/2013/01/13/aebe7c70-5c2e-11e2-88d0-c4cf65c3ad15_story.html?wpisrc=nl_headlines.  The author notes that it is the responsibility of Congress to exercise oversight and craft policies that govern the use of lethal force.  “But lawmakers have yet to hold a single hearing examining US drone policy.  Any rules must provide adequate transparency, respect the rule of law, conform with international standards and prudently advance US national security over the long term.”

Sarah Helewinski, “Do Less Harm: Protecting and Compensating Civilians in War”, Foreign Affairs”, January/February 2013.  Available for purchase at: http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/138464/sarah-holewinski/do-less-harm.  The author’s concluding remark is: “Civilians need to know that militaries value their lives. And as a country that champions justice and humanity, the United States must make sure that no civilian caught in conflict is ever in doubt about this.”

Owen Schaefer, “The Double Standard of Objections to Drone Strikes Against US Citizens”, Practical Ethics, Oxford University, 6 February 2013.  Available at: http://blog.practicalethics.ox.ac.uk/2013/02/the-double-standard-of-objections-to-drone-strikes-against-us-citizens/.  The author examines both the legal and the moral basis of the double standard referred to in the title and concludes that “there is something very disturbing about a doctrine that tosses out some of our most fundamental constitutional protections by executive fiat in the face of a supposedly novel threat.” 

Michael J Boyle, “The Costs and Consequences of Drone Warfare”, International Affairs, Vol. 89, No. 1 (January 2013), pp. 1-29.  Available at: http://www.chathamhouse.org/sites/default/files/public/International%20Affairs/2013/89_1/89_1Boyle.pdf.  The author concludes that “the US embrace of drone technology is a losing proposition over the long term as it will usher in a new arms race and lay the foundations for an international system that is increasingly violent, destabilized and polarized between those who have drones and those who are victims of them.

Bruno Oliveira Martins, “Legal Ethical and Political Issues in Use of Drones – Analysis”, Eurasia Review, 11 March 2013.  Available at: http://www.eurasiareview.com/11032013-legal-ethical-and-political-issues-in-use-of-drones-analysis/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+eurasiareview%2FVsnE+%28Eurasia+Review%29.  The author expresses concern with many aspects of drone usage: “whereas its use as weapon for extrajudicial killings – i.e. the processes of sentencing people to death and implementing those decisions without any court decision – poses a myriad of ethical and legal issues, use of drones by the private sector, and police and border patrol agents, has ignited a discussion on the frontiers of legality, revealing a process where ethical, philosophical, legal and political debates have not accompanied the speed of technological progress.

No author cited, “US Navy Laser Cannon Shoots Down Planes”, The Guardian, 9 April 2013.  Available at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2013/apr/09/us-navy-laser-cannon-planes.  The US navy has used a powerful laser cannon to shoot down drone aircraft and will start deploying the weapon on its ships, saying it represents the future of warfare.  It uses electricity and costs only about US$1.00 per shot, though the laser unit costs about US$30 million.”

Ernesto Londono, “Drones Cause ‘Growing Hatred of America’ Bipartisan Senate Panel Told”, The Washington Post, 24 April 2013.  Available at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/drones-cause-growing-hatred-of-america-bipartisan-senate-panel-told/2013/04/23/4863b1f8-ac6e-11e2-a8b9-2a63d75b5459_story.html?wpisrc=nl_headlines.  A bipartisan panel of [US] senators held a spirited and unusually public debate Tuesday afternoon [23 April] about the legality and unintended consequences of America’s targeted killings overseas, a forum convened amid growing calls for stronger oversight of the government’s use of armed drones outside conventional battlefields”.

Scott Wilson and Greg Miller, “Obama Pledges New Rules on Drones”, The Washington Post, 24 May 2013.  Available at http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/obama-outlines-new-rules-for-drones/2013/05/23/1b5918e6-c3cb-11e2-914f-a7aba60512a7_story.html?hpid=z1.  President Obama outlined the future of his counterterrorism polices Thursday in a wide-ranging speech that sought to more clearly define the American enemy, make lethal government actions more accountable to Congress and signal that the nation’s long war against al-Qaeda will one day end.  The text of the speech at the National Defence University is available at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2013/05/23/remarks-president-national-defense-university.

Jonathan Derbyshire, “Drone Theory by Gregoire Chamayou Review – A Provocative Investigation,” The Guardian, 21 January 2015.  Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/jan/21/drone-theory-by-gregoire-chamayou-review-provocative-investigation.  “Drone attacks have become a hallmark of Barack Obama’s presidency, and the talk of ‘precision’is deeply problematic.



Crimes Against Humanity


Accountability for Crimes Against Humanity

Gayle Smith, “From Nuremberg to Dafur: Accountability for Crimes Against Humanity:  Testimony to the US Senate Judicial Subcommittee of Human Rights and the Law”, Centre for American Progress, 23 June 2008.  Available at: http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/civil-liberties/news/2008/06/23/4592/from-nuremberg-to-darfur-accountability-for-crimes-against-humanity/.  The full text of the testimony states a case for tougher laws in the US for crimes against humanity.

Whitney R. Harris, “Crimes Against Humanity Initiative: Proposed International Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Crimes Against Humanity”, Washington University School of Law, August 2010.  Available at: http://law.wustl.edu/harris/cah/docs/EnglishTreatyFinal.pdf.  This is one of the earlier discussions of the proposed convention and is therefore simpler than many of the later discussions, particularly in reference to the duties and obligations of the State in exercising its jurisdiction.

Greg Barns, “Politics Has No Place When It Comes to Crimes Against Humanity”, The Sydney Morning Herald, 2 November 2011.  Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/politics/politics-has-no-place-when-it-comes-to-crimes-against-humanity-20111101-1mt63.html.  The author notes that thirteen years after Pinochet’s arrest, the act of which set a precedent for the concept of universal jurisdiction, the impact of such a precedent has been undermined by governments blocking similar cases for what appears to be political purposes.

Law Library of Congress, “Multinational Report, “Crimes Against Humanity Statues and Criminal Code Provisions”, 26 July 2012.  Available at: http://www.loc.gov/law/help/crimes-against-humanity.php.  The research report gives a summary of relevant statutes for about 50 countries.

Ian Cobain, “Obama’s Secret Kill List – the Disposition Matrix,” The Guardian, 15 July 2013.  Available at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jul/14/obama-secret-kill-list-disposition-matrix.  The disposition matrix is a complex grid of suspected terrorists to be traced then targeted in drone strikes or captured and interrogated.  And the British government appears to be colluding in it.”  See comment by Michel C H Jones at: http://www.accci.com.au/JonesCommentonCobain.pdf.  Or click here for translation into online Simplified Chinese.

Oona A Hathaway and Scott J Shapiro, “On Syria, a UN Vote Isn’t Optional,” The New York Times, 3 September 32013.  Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/04/opinion/on-syria-a-un-vote-isnt-optional.html?ref=opinion.  The authors make the point that “if the United States begins an attack without Security Council authorisation, it will flout the most fundamental international rule of all — the prohibition on the use of military force, for anything but self-defence, in the absence of Security Council approval.  This rule may be even more important to the world’s security — and America’s — than the ban on the use of chemical weapons.

Rick Gladstone and Nick Cumming Bruce, “UN Leader Admits Failure to Halt Syrian Atrocities,” The New York Times, 11 September 2013.  Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/12/world/middleeast/un-guilty-of-collective-failure-in-syria-leader-says.html.  “The remarks by Mr. Ban came in his opening speech to a General Assembly meeting on the “responsibility to protect” principle adopted by the United Nations in 2005, which asserts that the organisation has an obligation to prevent mass atrocities.  Despite the adoption of that principle, Mr. Ban said, ‘atrocities continue to be committed, and we continue to face challenges in our efforts to protect people from them.’”

Raphael Minder, “Spain to Proceed with Indictment of China’s Ex-President,” The New York Times, 11 October 2013.  Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/12/world/europe/spain-to-proceed-with-indictment-of-chinas-ex-president.html?ref=world.  Spain’s national court approved the indictment of Hu Jintao, the former Chinese president, as part of an investigation into whether the Chinese government tortured and repressed the people of Tibet as part of an attempted genocide.

Reuters, “Gaza: Nothing More Shameful than Attacking Sleeping Children, Says Ban Ki-moon – Video,” The Guardian, 30 July 2014.  Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/world/video/2014/jul/30/gaza-israel-shameful-attacking-sleeping-children-ban-ki-moon-video.  UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon issued a statement on Gaza, during his visit to Costa Rica, after a school in the Palestinian territory, being used to shelter families, was shelled by Israeli forces on Wednesday.  At least 15 people, mostly children and women, died when the school in Jabaliya refugee camp was hit by five shells during a night of relentless bombardment across the territory.  More than 100 people were injured.”

The Editorial Board, “Prosecute Torturers and Their Bosses,” The New York Times, 21 December 2014.  Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/22/opinion/prosecute-torturers-and-their-bosses.html?ref=opinion.  The newspaper’s editorial advocates starting a criminal investigation over “what appears increasingly a “vast criminal conspiracy, under colour of law, to commit torture and other serious crimes.”  Such an investigation would be about ensuring that this never happens again and regaining the moral credibility to rebuke torture by other governments.”

Kirsten Ainley, “The Responsibility to Protect and the International Criminal Court: Counteracting the Crisis,” International Affairs, Vol. 91, No. 1 (January 2015), pp. 37-54.  Available at: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1468-2346.12185/pdf.  “The Responsibility to Protect (R2P) process and the International Criminal Court (ICC) are quite probably the most important innovations in human rights protection for decades.  They led to global recognition that sovereignty in the twenty-first century entails the responsibility to protect people from fear and want.”  But progress has been slow as a result of a slow and inconsistent pace set by the United Nations Security Council.  The author suggests ways in which the situation could be improved.






Turhan Canli, Susan Brandon, William Casebeer, Philip J Crowley, Don DuRousseau, Henry T Greely and Alvaro Pascual-Leone, “Neuroethics and National Security”, The American Journal of Bioethics, Vol. 7, No. 5 (2007), pp. 3–13.  Available at:
http://www.tmslab.org/publications/129.pdf.  The authors express the view that what is needed is a three-way partnership between individuals with an expert understanding of issues related to neuroscience, ethics, and national security. The potential for ethical use of neuroscience in defence of national security is there, but its implementations cannot be protected without the concerted efforts and participation of each of these groups.

The Royal Society, “Brain Waves Module 3: Neuroscience, Conflict and Security”, April 2012.  Available at: http://royalsociety.org/uploadedFiles/Royal_Society_Content/policy/projects/brain-waves/2012-02-06-BW3.pdf.  An increasingly mechanistic understanding of the brain raises a host of ethical, legal, and social implications. T his has laid the foundation for the emergent field of Neuroethics, which examines ethical issues governing the conceptual and practical developments of neuroscience.